Kestrel wins first business in Netherlands

Kestrel Foods in Portadown, a market leader in premium healthy snacks such as dried fruits, seeds and nuts, has won its first business in the Netherlands following its participation in Invest Northern Ireland’s ‘Going Dutch’ initiative.

The company is supplying its successful Forest Feast products to two of the leading retail chains in the Netherlands – Super de Boer, headquartered in Amersfoort, and De Bijenkorf of Amsterdam.

Super de Boer has 300 stores throughout the Netherlands and Kestrel is supplying its contemporary mini doypack range of pocket size dried fruit snacks. Offering pure dried fruit of exquisite quality and free from artificial additives, lines include Gorgeous Goji Berries, Mouth-watering Mango, Sumptuous Strawberries and Incredible Cranberries.

De Bijenkorf, which has a chain of 12 upmarket department stores in the Netherlands, has signed up for the Northern Ireland company’s Special & Savoury Doy Packs, featuring the recently launched Thai Spice Cashews and Roast & Salt Assorted Nuts. This high profile range of department stores offers an awareness building opportunity for Forest Feast in the Dutch market.

Lorraine Hall, Sales and Marketing Director of Kestrel Foods Ltd, commenting on the new business, says: “This is an outstanding achievement for the Forest Feast brand and gives us an excellent foundation from which we can drive sales in the Netherlands and other European target markets.

“The Going Dutch programme enabled us to explore the market and to assess the extent of the opportunity there for our products. We benefited significantly from the in-market experience and knowledge of Invest NI’s trade support there, which was provided by Northern Ireland Trade Consultants.

“The new business in the Netherlands is an important development in our focus on growth through exports. Over the last five years Kestrel has enjoyed sales growth in excess of 265 per cent.  Export growth has been a key strategic focus for the brand and in 2007/08 Forest Feast export sales grew by 95 per cent on the previous year.”

Welcoming Kestrel’s success in the Netherlands, Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, said: “Going Dutch is a strongly practical programme that offers companies interested in doing business in the Netherlands access to professional marketing advice and support on-the-ground in essential areas such as market research, lead generation, and arranging meetings. The programme has been extremely successful and has enabled a broad range of local companies to win first-time export business in this important European market.”

An ambitious, five year business development programme implemented by Kestrel includes factory expansion, increased focus on New Product Development, significant market investment and export growth. A new targeted strategic approach to export market viability has allowed the company to identify and prioritise five key target markets for the Forest Feast brand.

Following initial Dutch retail market analysis, the company visited potential customers there and secured business with Super de Boer and De Bijenkorf

Recent export successes for the Forest Feast brand have been the result of a concerted team effort. Forest Feast Marketing Executive, Machteld McKinstry has extensive knowledge of the Dutch market and this has given the company the edge in achieving a quick route to market with retailer communication and packaging translations.

Kestrel Foods, employing 65 people at its Portadown factory, already supplies its Forest Feast products to all the main multiple groups in the United Kingdom and Ireland and has a strong independent and symbol group presence across both markets.